Sunday Poetry – Christmas

Christmas is only a few weeks away & I love Christmas carols & songs so I’ll be featuring them for the next few Sundays. According to the Penguin Book of Carols, Tomorrow shall be my dancing day is a very old song, probably dating back to the medieval Mystery plays. There was also a 15th century tradition of cradle prophecy carols where the infant Jesus would sit on his mother’s lap & foretell his future & it may owe something to this as well.
The picture above is of the slipcase of my lovely Folio Book of Carols (the actual book is a replica of the one the angels are holding) & I’ll be taking my carols from this. Only the first four verses are in the Folio book & I don’t think I’ve ever heard the full carol which takes Christ from His Nativity to His Passion. The full version is much darker & probably more appropriate for Easter & the carol was often divided into three parts & sung at different times of the year.
This version was collected by William Sandys in his Christmas Carols, Ancient & Modern in the early 19th century.

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance;

        Chorus
        Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,
        This have I done for my true love

Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance
Thus was I knit to man’s nature
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

In a manger laid, and wrapped I was
So very poor, this was my chance
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

Then afterwards baptized I was;
The Holy Ghost on me did glance,
My Father’s voice heard from above,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

Into the desert I was led,
Where I fasted without substance;
The Devil bade me make stones my bread,
To have me break my true love’s dance. Chorus

The Jews on me they made great suit,
And with me made great variance,
Because they loved darkness rather than light,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

For thirty pence Judas me sold,
His covetousness for to advance:
Mark whom I kiss, the same do hold!
The same is he shall lead the dance. Chorus

Before Pilate the Jews me brought,
Where Barabbas had deliverance;
They scourged me and set me at nought,
Judged me to die to lead the dance. Chorus

Then on the cross hanged I was,
Where a spear my heart did glance;
There issued forth both water and blood,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

Then down to hell I took my way
For my true love’s deliverance,
And rose again on the third day,
Up to my true love and the dance. Chorus

Then up to heaven I did ascend,
Where now I dwell in sure substance
On the right hand of God, that man
May come unto the general dance. Chorus

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